Portland offers sightseeing attractions both in the city itself and in the surrounding area. A walking tour of downtown encompasses two separate national historical districts, including the largest preserved example of nineteenth-century cast iron architecture in the West, and a number of other nineteenth-century landmarks intermixed with distinctive modern buildings. The controversial Portland Building is the first major post-modern architectural structure in the country. The award-winning Pioneer Courthouse Square bustles with activity from outdoor art exhibits, concerts, and sidewalk vendors.
Portland is proud of its outdoor public art and fountains, including Portlandia, a 35-foot tall hammered copper sculpture of a kneeling woman, and Ira's Fountain, a cascading water sculpture dotted with islands and terraces across from the Civic Auditorium. Other attractions include The Grotto, a 60-acre shrine; the Japanese Garden, the most authentic example of Japanese gardens outside of Japan; the International Rose Test Garden; and the Classical Chinese Garden in the Old Town/Chinatown district.
Many other attractions can be found just outside of the city. Vineyards in the Willamette Valley are open to the public for tours and wine tastings. Some of the nation's most beautiful natural scenery can be found around nearby Mount Hood and the Columbia Gorge. Portland is 110 miles away from the Pacific Ocean.
The Portland Center for the Performing Arts is the center of art activity in the city presenting more than 900 annual events and featuring the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Newmark Theatre, Dolores Winningstad Theatre, and Keller Auditorium. Portland's performing arts groups include Oregon Symphony, Portland Opera, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Portland Center State, Portland Youth Philharmonic, Portland Gay Men's Chorus, and Chamber Music Northwest.
The Oregon Historical Society's History Center houses exhibits tracing the history of the Pacific Northwest from prehistoric times to the present. The Oregon Maritime Center and Museum features ship models, navigational instruments, hardware, and historical exhibits. The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), one of the nation's largest, offers hands-on displays pertaining to science, including a walk-in replica of a space station, a planetarium, and a computer center.
Displaying exhibits of commercial memorabilia, the American Advertising Museum specializes in the history of American marketing since 1683. The World Forestry Center has recreational and educational exhibits relating to the forestry industry; a special attraction is a 70-foot talking tree.
The Portland Art Museum, one of the 25 largest museums in the country, houses collections of 35 centuries of world art, including European works from the Renaissance to the present, nineteenth- and twentieth-century American art, and Native American, Asian, and West African art. In 2000 the museum unveiled three new centers in its Millennium Project expansion: the Center for Native American Art, Center for Northwest Art, and the outdoor public sculpture gardens. The most recent project in the expansion program began in February 2004 as renovation and restoration started on the museum's "North Building," a former Masonic Temple acquired in 1991.
The Northwest Film and Video Center features traditional, historical, and experimental exhibits in the media of film and video. One of the oldest nonprofit art galleries in the nation, the Contemporary Crafts Gallery displays artworks in clay, fiber, glass, wood, and metal.
Washington Park is home to many children's attractions, including the Portland Children's Museum. It features hands-on exhibits for children through 10 years of age. The Oregon Zoo, which opened in 1887, houses animals from around the world. The zoo's latest project is a Great Northwest exhibit, which features animals and ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest region. Also of interest to children and book-lovers alike is the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden in Grant Park, which showcases bronze statues of Ramona Quimby and Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy—characters made famous in the Portland author's classic children's books.
The centerpiece of Portland's special events schedule is the annual Portland Rose Festival, which lasts for 25 days each June. The festival features more than 70 events, including the Grand Floral Parade (second largest all-floral parade in the nation), a waterfront carnival, a juried fine arts festival, and an Indycar race.
Spring and summer bring several area jazz festivals, including the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival in August, which brings
Professional sports in Portland are led by the National Basketball Association's Portland Trail Blazers, frequent playoff contenders, who play at the Rose Garden arena. Professional minor league baseball is represented by the Portland Beavers, a Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres. The Portland Timbers are Portland's professional soccer franchise and members of the First Division of United Soccer Leagues. Both the Beavers, and the Timbers play their home games at Portland's PGE Park. Hockey action is brought to fans by the Portland Winter Hawks of the Western Hockey League, which is a major source of talent for the National Hockey League. A wide range of other sports activities can be viewed at several of the area's universities.
Portland Meadows features quarterhorse and thoroughbred racing from October through April, and nearby Multnomah Kennel Club provides greyhound racing in an enclosed facility. Stock and Indycar racing take place at the Portland International Raceway. Portland also hosts the Wrangler Rodeo Classic.
Portland offers a variety of ways to satisfy the sporting urge. The mountains provide opportunities for outdoor sports such as rock climbing and hiking. Timberline Lodge, a National Historic Landmark, serves one of Mt. Hood's five ski areas and offers the only lift-serviced summer skiing in the country. Local rivers feature all water sports; the Portland area is a fishing paradise, offering everything from fly fishing for trout in mountain streams and salmon-fishing in the rivers to all-day deep-sea excursions on charter boats. Hood River, Oregon, is a windsurfing mecca on the Columbia Gorge. The Portland Marathon, held in early October, has been ranked as one of the premier marathon events in the country; its 26.2-mile course is open to walkers as well as runners.
The Portland Parks & Recreation department maintains 10,510 acres which include 102 neighborhood parks; more than 160 urban, regional, community and habitat parks and gardens; 4 golf courses; and 50 recreation facilities. Parks range in size from the 4,700-acre Forest Park to Mill Ends Park, the world's smallest park at 36 inches by 36 inches in diameter. Facilities include two amphitheaters; a skateboard park; tennis courts; sports fields; playgrounds; arts, music, and dance centers; and sports, fitness, and arts programming.
Lloyd Center, Portland's first and largest shopping center, is located in the downtown core in the city's northeast section. Here, more than 200 stores surround an indoor ice rink. Washington Square, Jantzen Beach Super Center, and Clackamas Town Center are all located within a 20-minute drive of downtown. The Galleria includes several floors of unique urban shopping and dining. Pioneer Place in the heart of downtown features four city blocks of dining, shopping, entertainment, and the first-ever Sundance Film Center for Independent Film. Powell's City of Books, the world's largest new and used independent bookstore, is located in downtown Portland and stocks more than a million books.
The Skidmore/Old Town National Historic District at the north end of downtown offers many shopping possibilities. The New Market Theatre also houses shops and restaurants. Saturday Market, the largest open-air crafts market in continuous operation in the country, is open Saturday and Sunday, March through December, and features more than 300 vendors. The Water Tower at John's Landing is the home of a unique blend of shops and restaurants. The Sellwood and Hawthorne Boulevard Districts in southeast Portland and the Multnomah District in southwest Portland are favorites of antique hunters.
Portland features a number of restaurants specializing in fresh, grown-in-Oregon foods, as well as spots to sample famous Pacific seafood. The Chinatown district offers regional Chinese cuisine; a large number of other restaurants specialize in many ethnic foods. More than a dozen nationally ranked restaurants emphasize elegance and formal dining, and there are many informal bistros and other places to mix dining with nightlife.
Visitor Information: Portland Oregon Visitors Association, 1000 SW Broadway, Suite 2300, Portland, OR 97205; telephone (503)275-9750; toll-free (800)962-3700; email info @pova.com